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Saturday 21 December 2019

The pushback against anti-democracy

With apologies for intruding on our warm glow of satisfaction at the election result (for many of us,if not all), today I have a reminder that it will take another ten years to unwind the damage that Theresa May caused at the Home Office. Her survival strategy when Home Secretary was to hide, disguise, obfuscate and frustrate, to obstruct scrutiny as far as was possible, and when the blame was getting too close, to throw underlings under the bus. 

It was Theresa May, you will recall, who was responsible for importing into Britain 35-year old 'child' refugees complete with beards and middle aged crows feet. I submitted a request under FOI for a copy of the guidance issued by the Home Office to immigration officers in identifying these child migrants. The usual delays and requests for clarification spun out their overdue response to a year before the Information Commissioner took up the case; the Home Office then ignored the Information Commissioner's ruling, and instruction to provide the information. I was just about booking the flight to London to give evidence in the High Court in a case to be brought by the ICO when the Home Office gave way, and provided a glossy DTP'd booklet. The only problem was, it bore a publication date after the date of my FOI request, and after all those adult 'children' had already been admitted. I gave up.

The next one I won't give up. The new select committee chairs will shortly be announced and I will be following closely any calls for evidence by the Home Affairs Select Committee with interest. This time it's the strategy Mrs May developed with regard to the National Crime Agency. The NCA has spent a considerable amount of our tax money in producing glossy, advertorial 'annual reports' describing how brilliant it is, what a huge threat the general public poses to the State, and how they need even more power. The problem is, some of the information given in last year's NCA wankfest was misleading - seemingly deliberately so. I submitted an FOI request to the Home Office, the NCA's parent. No can do, came the response. The NCA enjoys a total exemption from FOI requests on security grounds. Fine, I said, it's not about operational policing matters, it's about inaccuracies and misleading presentation of statistics already in the public domain in the annual report. Who answers for this publication? No-one. Not the Home Office and not the NCA. They could spend a million of tax money issuing glossy brochures telling us that women with unibrows should be subject to surveillance and not one member of the public, not one journalist, not one taxpayer can challenge it. It stinks. And it's got Theresa May's smug inept fingerprints all over it. Hide. Disguise. Obfuscate. Frustrate.

While the EU has not been responsible for Mrs May's dreadful tenure of the Home Office, it has I think been responsible for encouraging our unelected government officials in this impertinence against public scrutiny. They've learned bad ways from Brussels. The abolition of the LCD by the federast Blair and the creation of a Euro-style Ministry of Justice was surely just a first step towards a national police force under the command of the Justice Minister, and the complete disassociation from democratic and local control of our citizen constables.

Charles Moore writes a good piece in the Telegraph today, covering also the intrusion by the courts into matters that are democratic. Sometimes precipitated by well-funded saboteurs of the democratic process such as Gina Miller, sometimes by the dangers of compliance with 'dynamic' frameworks of law under which judges - and not even domestic ones - instead of Parliament continually modify and update the extent and effect of our statutes. Lord Sumption, in this year's Reith lectures, although himself a Remainer, deprecated this growth of 'lawfare' and the intrusion of unelected authority into the democratic process. Moore has a straightforward remedy - to row-back on Blair's pollution of our well-developed state institutions.
The obvious safeguard for reform – this is me speaking, not Professor Ekins – would be to restore in full the rights of the Lord Chancellor, which Tony Blair, in a careless piece of sofa government one weekend, threw away.

By a very British paradox, the age when, through the Lord Chancellor, the government theoretically had complete power over appointing judges was also the age in which there was least politicising of those appointments. Judges judged, and politicians did politics. Now we can get back to that.
Update - 50p coins
On my post of 18th December I hoped that we would see the re-issue of the Brexit 50p coins. The government were ahead of me. The coins were approved by the Queen in Council on the 17th and millions will be released into circulation at the end of next month. Well Done! Carry on.  

Friday 20 December 2019

A typhoon is blowing through government

In the latter part of the 19th century, our legislators realised that government was seriously lagging the monumental changes to the Britain outside SW1. Britain had revolutionised but government was stuck in the past. Actually it was originally, from 1858, just SW. That postal coding in itself was one of the tsunami of reforms, legislative clearing-out, organising and administrative innovations that brought Whitehall into line with a world of trains, post, telegraphs, new towns and cities and the popular press. It all meant that the cobwebs of governance that had accumulated through centuries had to be swept away. The Palace of Westminster itself was rebuilt, and a rank of grand new Portland stone facades hubristic with Imperial pride thrust their chests out onto Whitehall. That's the scale of change it felt like yesterday - no wonder Corbyn looked so glum! Momentum is now definitely owned by the Conservatives (sorry, Owen) and when the great flywheel of state reaches speed, inertial forces will take the nation forward with stunning power. This session of Parliament may last little more than a year - by the Spring of 2021 the government aims to have enacted
  • European Union Withdrawal Bill
  • Agriculture Bill
  • Fisheries Bill
  • Trade Bill
  • Immigration Bill
  • NHS Funding Bill and NHS Long Term Plan
  • Medicines and Medical Devices Bill
  • Health Service Safety Investigations Bill
  • Social Care Reform
  • Education reform
  • Broadband legislation
  • Air Traffic Management and Unmanned Aircraft Bill
  • Airline insolvency legislation
  • Railways minimum service legislation
  • Rail reform and High Speed Rail 2 (West Midlands - Crewe) Bill
  • National Security and Investment Bill
  • Science, space and research framework
  • English devolution
  • Employment Bill
  • Housing and renters legislation
  • Building and fire safety legislation
  • Crackdown on terrorists
  • Sentencing reform
  • Serious violence measures
  • Online Harms Bill
  • Police powers
  • Helen’s law
  • Domestic abuse and divorce reform
  • Extradition, foreign offenders and espionage legislation
  • Victims’ law and Royal Commission
  • Environment and animal welfare bill
  • Climate change Bill
  • Constitutional reform
  • Armed forces maintenance
That's quite some programme.

Only one face looked less than ecstatic on the government benches - JRM. He looked in fact as though he'd been given advance warning that he was unlikely to survive on the Treasury bench beyond the February big Cabinet reshuffle. Or perhaps he was merely confused by all the novel regional voices behind him, some of which he could not perhaps quite understand.

Thursday 19 December 2019

Bigoted thugs? No thanks.

The Conservative party is a broad church, and I am happy with the socially liberal membership policies of the party which are backed by an unequivocal set of membership rules that exclude any manifestation of racism, bigotry or discrimination based on class, caste, colour or sexuality. It does mean there are certain folk with whom I would not feel comfortable having in the party. Members and supporters of the 'Britain First' fascist movement  are among those for whom our party should offer no shelter from the collapse of the far-right. There is, to be frank, no place in our party for any of these thugs - and suggestions in the Indescribablyawful that BF members have been encouraged to infiltrate the party must be taken seriously. You're not wanted.

Fascist thugs - Not wanted in the Conservative Party
This was a problem that faced Nigel when he set up BrexitCorp™, and one of the reasons he structured it as he did, with no members to embarrass him as they had done in UKIP, just contributors and supporters who could be easily disowned if exposed in the media. Largely it has worked, and he's managed to keep the entryist fascists at arms length.

One or two try to creep in under the wire. In Scotland ex-UKIP MEP David Coburn tried to sneak into the Conservative Party using the online application - but was quickly rumbled, and his membership rapidly invalidated by Scottish leader Jackson Carlaw. They've heard enough nasty remarks from this chap in the past under his UKIP coat.

Ooot - David Coburn

Labour made the mistake of making the fascists welcome in their party. Didn't turn out well.

Update 19.30
BF capo Paul Golding, jailed twice in the last 5 years for religiously aggravated harassment, also applied for party membership, and has also been rejected. The ES has the story.

BF Thug Golding - also ooot.

Wednesday 18 December 2019

The return of Internationalism?

Reading the newspapers this week has been not unlike Christmas day as a small child - not quite knowing which present to open next, whether to succumb to the intoxicating interest of the one just opened or move to unwrapping another. It's almost as though all those childhood Christmasses were just training for the utter, pervading exhilaration of this election victory. 

Among this cornucopia of bliss, dear readers, I bring you just one snippet this morning. That Boris has instructed his ministers to stay away from Davos this year. Davos, the home of globalism, of the world's supranationalists, the world government and world finance oligarchs, at whose feet pygmies such as Blair and Mandelson grovel in obeisance, a Soros-fest for the 1%. I'm convinced half the British public still confuse it with Davros, leader of the Daleks, the enemy of human civilisation.

The Telegraph quotes Boris from 2016
"It is in a sense a struggle between people who want to take back control, and a small group of people who do very well out of the current system and who know Christine Lagarde and can go “mwah mwah” with her at Davos, or whatever it happens to be. Of course they’re going to be in favour of the system."
Does that mark a return for Britain to Internationalism, to free trade, commerce, mutual prosperity but national independence for the UK? Brexit doesn't mean less interaction with the rest of the world - it means more. It means extending our friendships and sending out our commercial gents across the globe - and I'm sure we will shortly see the re-issue of that 50p piece and its heartening message

 Peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations

No Davros this year for Conservatives

Tuesday 17 December 2019

The joy of Engineering

One of my friends here is an engineering graduate of the prestigious TU Wien - the technical university. It markets itself as the European centre of technical excellence. Academic standards and demands on students there really are extremely high. It's a joy to talk in the language of Newtons - or Pascals, as they both quantify the same 9.81 - with someone whose face doesn't cloud over in blank incomprehension. But there's a gulf between us. A month or so ago in my workshop, in answer to a question, I said "about three eighths". Being British of a certain age I have no problem seamlessly moving between metric and imperial. He reached for his mobile phone calculator and tried to recall the complex equation he'd been taught for such conversions. "Twenty five point four divided by eight times three" I threw out. "No!" he was genuinely upset "You're ... mixing them! You can't mix them!". "Sorry" I apologised "I learned my engineering in Doncaster, not Wien". This is the same friend who answered, when I asked what the German was for 'over-engineered', and after he had solemnly consulted google, that there was no such term in the German language.

It confirmed what I'd long known - that I'd learned my engineering from the finest teachers in the world, the mechanical and electrical engineers who had been nurtured themselves by the National Coal Board from apprentices to graduates and post-graduates to Chartered Engineers. They had spent their time underground amidst the heat and piss and muck as well as their time in the lecture rooms. Neither did we soft would-be young quarry engineers pose them any challenge. "My name is Gerald Alass" announced one mech. eng. lecturer  on his first day "Some call me all-arse. I don't mind that. It takes a big 'ammer to drive a big nail."  I pray today please, please, let these people still exist - we need them now more than ever.

William Hague in the Telegraph - whom I think it's now safe to read again,if he's been purged of his Remainerism by Boris' victory, writes today
Alongside investing capital in infrastructure, we need the growth of human capital. Your problem, if you’re sitting in Rotherham, is not just that you can’t travel quickly to an international business based in Manchester. It is also that you probably don’t have the right expertise when you get there.
Universities have done much to bring more dynamism to many northern cities, but we all know by now that we are not short of graduates. British industry complains continually of shortages of technical and digital skills. And if we are going to build so much infrastructure, tens of thousand of additional people with construction skills will be needed. A decisive change in our woeful record of promoting vocational skills, both for young people and adults who need retraining, is the vital ingredient for rescuing millions of people from being left behind by technological change.

This is where ministers need to be more ambitious than their manifesto. Many laudable commitments were in there – 20 institutes of technology, a new National Skills Fund, and a requirement to use UK apprentices on infrastructure projects. But in the forthcoming reorganisation of government departments, and any reshuffle of ministers, this ought to be a prime focus. The country needs a revolution in the esteem accorded to technical studies, the ease with which anyone can move between skills training and higher education, and the ability of current workers to use the same system.
A voice on the radio yesterday whose name I can't recall suggested we need also a prestigious and world-class institution of our own of the sort that TU-Wien aspires to be - an MIT, a Manchester Institute of Technology. I fully support that. We already have either 4 or 5 universities in the global top 20 - whilst the entire EU27 has exactly none. While the US has both the original MIT and CalTech in the global top 10, our contenders are Oxford and Cambridge - institutions that may produce competent civil servants, but won't win the UK the international tech race.

And at the risk of sounding Northist, this human capital formation will best take place north of a line drawn from Bristol to the Wash. Sorry, but it just will.

Monday 16 December 2019

Reasons why Labour lost - by Labour

It is quite clear that Labour's resounding defeat, according to the Party, had nothing to do with Jeremy Corbyn, the Party's extremism, anti-semitism, sheer nastiness, risk to the nation or betrayal of the referendum result and the Party's voters outside the metropolitan heartlands. Here is why, according to Labour, they lost -
  • It was the Jews / Israel. Lady Tonge said "The pro-Israel lobby won our General Election by lying about Jeremy Corbyn"
  • Voters are too stupid to understand the Party- Emily Thornberry, Lady Nugee 
  • Not everyone on the left-dominated Twitter agrees with me, therefore Twitter lost the election - Lily Allen
  • It was the voters fault. They're simply not worthy of the Party - Jeremy Corbyn
  • It was the billionaire owned media (of which only the Telegraph backed Brexit for the last 3 years)
  • Not enough luvvies came out in support of the party. 
  • Because we didn't lower the voting age to 11 and allow the EU to vote
The petulance level in London has risen to 9 on the Coogan scale and police and emergency services are braced to deal with copious tears and widespread whining when the Withdrawal Bill gets re-tabled.

Of course we'll also know very very soon whether the Lords needs swamping with 500 new Brexit peers just prior to its radical reform .. it's up to you, your Lordships.

Sunday 15 December 2019

Parking our tanks on Labour's lawn

The country has always been an egalitarian place. For a start, the planners haven't buggered it by creating monocultural ghettoes like the vast council estates of the metropolitans and the £1m villas of detached suburbia. In my old market town the cottage of a railwayman's widow nestled with the Tudor merchant's house of an FRS, and council houses (yes, we had them) were pairs or small groups of semi-detacheds woven seamlessly into the historical fabric. The pubs, the retailers, the amenities were used by all. Contrary to the caricatures, such small societies have the knack of tolerating and absorbing differences and varieties. My neighbour was curiously proud when Needham Market acquired its first Vegan - and the poor woman became the object of well-meaning but universal curiosity; "Are they allowed to touch newspapers?" asked the owner of the newsagents-come-toy-shop. Oh sure there were feuds, disputes and long-standing stubbornness, but we had five pubs (six if you included the bar of the Limes Hotel) and people spread themselves out. It was, if you like, One Village. There is little fertile ground for the Marxist politics of class hatred in such places.

Which brings us to Momentum. Everything that Labour promised in their campaign, every crazy giveaway and gift, every insane spending commitment, was not an end in itself but a lever with which to gull voters into building the bars of a Marxist central command State around themselves. Though their objectives were vile, it didn't mean that some of the persuasion-agenda stuff didn't chime with voters across the spectrum as laudable ends in themselves.

More social housing - why not? A young couple working in low-paid jobs should not be excluded from the possibility of a family life and a home, but of course neither should they have an absolute right to State housing. There's a median way. Rail fares - Villach to Vienna and Durham to London are both around 400km, but one will cost £29 for a single fare and the other £176. That's too great a difference. Training more nurses - for sure. Let's be flexible - there's room for not only SENs and SRNs but graduate Nurse Practitioners as well, for a variety of on the job, day release, full and part time training. Let's not be didactic.

The Conservatives, unlike the Marxists, don't have an ideology. However much Marxists try to impose one upon us. We're pragmatists, flexible and open to change. Agile, in the jargon of the modern management consultant. And this is where I fear those who are already projecting both their fears and their hopes onto Boris may well be disappointed. Just as they ditch their failed Leader, Labour may find that Boris has parked his tanks on their lawn.

Robert Tombs does a decent job of outlining the direction of travel in the Telegraph. No, Boris won't water down Brexit, and neither will he betray our Friends in the North. There is an obligation there. And an opportunity to destroy everywhere in Britain apart from the toxic big cities the poison of Marxist division. Tombs writes
Boris Johnson has a similar mission to transform the thin-lipped party of Cameron, Osborne and May – and beyond the borders of England too. This is a formidable task. But he has advantages: not only the spectacular own goals committed by Labour and the LibDems, and the desperate stridency of an SNP whose long-term hopes are threatened by Brexit.

He can, and indeed should in the opinion of even conservative economists, borrow more to invest – investment in its true sense, and not as a euphemism for all state spending. He can launch a big infrastructure strategy. He can push forward improvements in schools and in training: the tools – which Labour wanted to abolish – are already there. Outside the EU, he can help deprived regions more effectively and he can bring down the cost of living by cutting unnecessary tariffs.
That will do for starters.

Investment - the railway band was on hand yesterday for the official opening of a branch line electrification